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Jun 10, 2018, 07:22 PM
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Sprite Chasing With An FPV Plane


No I don't mean the popular soft drink, or some kind of supernatural entity, but a type of upper atmospheric lightning. Here's how the Wikipedia article for upper atmospheric lightning begins:

Quote:
Upper-atmospheric lightning or ionospheric lightning are terms sometimes used by researchers to refer to a family of short-lived electrical-breakdown phenomena that occur well above the altitudes of normal lightning and storm clouds. Upper-atmospheric lightning is believed to be electrically induced forms of luminous plasma. The preferred usage is transient luminous event (TLE), because the various types of electrical-discharge phenomena in the upper atmosphere lack several characteristics of the more familiar tropospheric lightning.
Being a science enthusiast, since I first heard about the discovery of Sprites in the mid 1990's, I've been fascinated by the subject and have tried to find as much information as I could on this mysterious phenomenon. Red Sprites are the most common type of TLE, and appear above powerful thunderstorms, shooting up towards space. Some of them have been observed to go up 60 miles, all the way to the air glow layer at the edge of space!

Now I'm wondering if some of the starlight cameras we are putting on our model planes and multirotors could be used to capture video images of Red Sprites. I already have a Runcam Night Eagle 2 and I'm planning on building a night flying FPV wing with it using a Zeta FX-61 kit. I pretty much have all the components required, all I need to do is put the plane together and get it flying.

I think if I can get the plane up above the haze layer there's a decent shot at getting video of a Sprite, provided there is a strong enough thunderstorm within about 250 miles of the plane. That's if the Night Eagle 2 is sensitive enough to detect the faint light from a Sprite. I think it probably is - according to what I've read, Sprites can even be visible to the naked eye, provided you're looking at the right place at the right time. Sprites only appear above powerful positive lightning strikes, but we can use sites like Weather Underground to see where positive lighting strokes are taking place anywhere across the USA.

Here's a link to the Wikipedia article about TLEs, including Red Sprites.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upper-...eric_lightning

This video can give you a quick intro to the phenomenon.
Mystery of the Red Sprites (6 min 5 sec)


RunCam Night Eagle 2
https://shop.runcam.com/runcam-night-eagle-2-pro/
Last edited by smoothvirus; Mar 06, 2019 at 07:13 AM.
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Jun 10, 2018, 07:23 PM
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Here's a much longer documentary on TLE phenomena from a few years ago.

Lightning Sprites at the Edge of Space- Space documentary (52 min 59 sec)
Jun 26, 2018, 02:04 PM
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so far according to my research:

- Red Sprites are actually fairly common, they're occurring somewhere above the Earth pretty much 24 hours a day at any given time

- There are some other phenomena like Blue Jets that we might see but they're much more rare - Blue Jets seem to be associated with hail storms

- We will need to look for thunderstorm complexes that are at least 150km to a side and are dropping positive cloud to ground lightning strikes

- We can track where positive C-to-G strikes are occurring on Weather Underground's Wundermap feature https://www.wunderground.com/wundermap (sadly WU is not as good of a site as it used to be, and as I'm writing this the wundermap appears to be broken. It was recently updated and I don't really like the new look either)

Anyhow I haven't built the FX-61 yet but I got my night flying Penguin out of storage and will be testing the Runcam Night Eagle 2 with it this weekend. We may even get a shot at imaging some thunderstorms as there are isolated ones foretasted for that area on both nights.
Jul 21, 2018, 05:37 PM
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VLOG #31 - Operation Sprite (12 min 5 sec)
Sep 18, 2018, 12:40 PM
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http://en.blitzortung.org/live_light...aps.php?map=33

lightning detection site, just noting in case I want to use it later
Oct 10, 2018, 03:40 PM
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Frankie in Puerto Rico is getting some nice footage with low light video cameras of upper atmospheric lightning over the Caribbean:
https://www.youtube.com/user/frankie57pr/feed
Oct 10, 2018, 03:46 PM
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camera test of the Night Eagle 2 was successful, although I haven't had the chance to try it out again since June.

Pecan Patch 6-29-2018 flight 4 (13 min 2 sec)


Flight went well though I had some difficulties with the RVOSD.
Upon reviewing the footage I noticed that I actually managed to capture some very distant thunderstorms off on the horizon that night.
Jan 09, 2019, 04:29 PM
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Paul has some amazing captures on his channel, linking this video here:

2017/2018 sprite lightning captures . U.S.A. storm season (3 min 21 sec)
Jan 16, 2019, 08:59 PM
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Quote:
Sprites are spectacular optical emissions in the mesosphere induced by transient lightning electric fields above thunderstorms. Although the streamer nature of sprites has been generally accepted, how these filamentary plasmas are initiated remains a subject of active research. Here we present observational and modelling results showing solid evidence of pre-existing plasma irregularities in association with streamer initiation in the D-region ionosphere. The video observations show that before streamer initiation, kilometre-scale spatial structures descend rapidly with the overall diffuse emissions of the sprite halo, but slow down and stop to form the stationary glow in the vicinity of the streamer onset, from where streamers suddenly emerge. The modelling results reproduce the sub-millisecond halo dynamics and demonstrate that the descending halo structures are optical manifestations of the pre-existing plasma irregularities, which might have been produced by thunderstorm or meteor effects on the D-region ionosphere.


https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms4740
Last edited by smoothvirus; Mar 14, 2019 at 08:08 PM.
Jan 26, 2019, 10:26 PM
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another lightning detection site


http://rammb-slider.cira.colostate.e...hZQtrzUcIDyH2k
Mar 07, 2019, 12:18 PM
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I'm just throwing this link in here for reference, this camera is pretty amazing and I think people are already using it to capture sprite imagery. It's designed for handheld use and not really something I could lift with the FX-61 though.

https://www.sionyx.com/get-to-know-the-aurora.html
Mar 13, 2019, 07:33 AM
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(1 min 56 sec)


taken from a mountainside 373 miles from the storm that generated the sprites! That's good news, since we can bring our own "mountain" with the drone we should be able to see that far as well!
Last edited by smoothvirus; Mar 13, 2019 at 10:44 AM.
Mar 13, 2019, 10:50 AM
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Quote:
The Hundred Year Hunt for the Red Sprite
More
Monday, 8 January 2018: 2:45 PM
Room 2 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Walter A. Lyons, WeatherVideoHD.TV, Fort Collins, CO
Recorded Presentation
The red sprite is one of a family of lightning-induced Transient Luminous Events (TLEs) that can appear in the stratosphere and mesosphere above thunderstorms. Though brief and dim, occurring just at the edge of human visual perception, ancient peoples likely did glimpse them, perhaps forming the basis of certain ancestral myths and rock art. Mentions of such phenomena in the scientific literature are eyewitness reports dating as far back as the 1880s. But it took an accidental capture on videotape, using an experimental low-light camera, by Prof John R. Winckler of the University of Minnesota on 7 July 1989, to confirm that these fleeting and phantasmagorical flashes were indeed real, hiding from science in plain sight. This discovery caused astonishment, with one atmospheric physicist commenting, “It was as strange as if biology had suddenly discovered a new human body part.”
The author was involved in sprite research almost from day one, and indeed made the first intentional video capture in a NASA-funded project in 1993. Soon thereafter followed the discovery of an entire menagerie of luminous phenomena above storms including elves, blue jets, trolls, gigantic jets, gnomes and pixies. Then began the long scientific endeavor to document these events, understand their physics and quantify their impacts. Were they a threat to spacecraft? Did they affect radio wave propagation and atmospheric chemistry? And what was their relationship to the lightning in the parent storms below? In this regard, the explorations lead to the appreciation that sprites and elves resulted from several classes of massive “superbolt” lightning discharges far more energetic than the “conventional” flashes of the textbooks.

We review the long history of the unfolding of a new chapter in atmospheric sciences, the organizations and scientists involved, and how the topic attracted widespread public and press interest. Moreover, the discovery of sprites provided an excellent vehicle to explain to the general public how science actually worked when confronted with something strange and unexpected in the night sky. Similarly, an opportunity to involve citizen scientists in a journey of discovery and documentation of these phenomena continues to this day.


https://ams.confex.com/ams/98Annual/..._password=null


https://www.weathervideohd.tv/wvhd.php
Last edited by smoothvirus; Mar 13, 2019 at 11:08 AM.
Mar 15, 2019, 08:48 PM
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Quote:
Abstract

More than three dozen red sprites were captured above Hurricane Matthew on the nights of1 and 2 October 2016 as it passed to the north of Venezuela after undergoing rapid intensification.Analyses using broadband magnetic fields indicate that all of the sprites were produced by positivecloud-to-ground (CG) strokes located within the outer rainbands as defined by relatively cold cloud topbrightness temperatures (≤194 K). Negative CG strokes with impulse charge transfers exceeding thethreshold of sprite production also existed, but the timescale of the charge transfer was not sufficiently longto develop streamers. The reported observations are contrary to the finding of the Imager ofSprites/Upper Atmospheric Lightning showing that sprites are preferentially produced by negativestrokes in the same geographic region. Further ground-based observations are desired to obtain additionalinsights into the convective regimes associated with the dominance of negative sprites in many oceanic andcoastal thunderstorms.

Plain Language Summary

The contribution from citizen scientists has been greatly helpful forextending the scope of basic scientific research to the broad community. Thanks for the night skyphotographer living in Puerto Rico, Frankie Lucena, more than three dozen red sprites were captured on boththe long-exposure DSLR camera and the low-light-level video camera, forming a very valuable data set toexamine the sprite genesis above tropical cyclones. The comparison with coordinated broadband sfericmeasurements made at more than 2,000-km range near Duke University indicates that all of these spriteswere produced by positive cloud-to-ground strokes located in the outer rainband region. None of thesesprites were produced above the inner core region of the hurricane. The fact that all the sprites observedabove Hurricane Matthew are positive events is contrary to the spaceborne observations of the Imager ofSprites/Upper Atmospheric Lightning (ISUAL) over the past 12 years (2004–2015) that almost all the spritesobserved by ISUAL in the similar geographic region were of negative polarity. Therefore, it is worthwhileconducting the ground-based observation of sprites in this region to document the thunderstormsresponsible for the population of negative sprites over oceanic thunderstorms.
https://www.researchgate.net/publica...ricane_Matthew
Mar 15, 2019, 09:00 PM
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Progress! The FX-61 is completed and flying, and the RunCam Night Eagle 2 is installed and working. Next step will be some fine tuning to the Pitlab autopilot on the FX-61 and installing an onboard DVR so we can get a clean recording off of the camera.

Camp Challenge 3-2-2019 Flight 6 (22 min 59 sec)


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